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Dissection is the Ultimate Learning Experience

Dissection is the Ultimate Learning Experience

By: David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

There is nothing like a full-body dissection seminar to alter and improve one’s understanding and appreciation of the human body. A dissection seminar offers a unique opportunity to learn about the intricacies of the human body and its various structural relationships in a three-dimensional way. During the seminar, students become familiar with a range of pathologies; they also observe how the normal aging process affects the body.  This article will discuss just some of the benefits of participating in a dissection seminar.

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Postural Analysis: A Professional Tool for Building Your Practice

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By: David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

When patients go to the dentist with a toothache, they expect the dentist to take x-rays, perform an exam, and explain the findings: the patient needs a filling, root canal, crown, or an extraction. Likewise, when patients go to the doctor or chiropractor complaining of headaches or back pain, they usually expect the doctor to run assessment tests and/or take x-rays or an MRI, both of which produce images that pinpoint the nature of the injury and the origin of pain. Doctors often use these images to educate their patients in an effort to instill confidence that the problem can be properly treated. This article will discuss how massage therapists can use postural analysis and photos to educate their clients, as well as deliver their objective findings in a professional manner, while subsequently building their practice.

Permission

First, your health history and intake forms should include wording that gives you permission to take postural analysis photos. Always treat these photos as confidential medical records and inform the client of this as well.

 

Efficiency

The x-ray tech at the dentist’s office can develop and deliver results in just a few minutes. In the same amount of time, you too should be able to conduct a postural analysis that includes photos, report your findings, and describe how your treatments can help. This process must be quick, easy and non-threatening to your client.

Attire

Clients must feel safe, comfortable and respected. For the initial set of postural analysis photos, ask your clients to remove their shoes and jacket, but let them leave on whatever other clothing they came in wearing. The photos will still show key distortions, such as a high shoulder or forward-head posture, and provide enough information to help them commit to a series of therapy treatments.

 

Charts

The human body is designed with a great deal of symmetry, or balance. The body has the same bones and muscles on each side. Muscles in the front and the back of the body balance each other, and muscles also determine where the bones are moved or held in space. Muscular and skeletal charts are useful for showing the symmetry that exists in the body.

Postural analysis grid charts make it easy for anyone to see asymmetries in the body. Charts are available in different sizes and hang easily. Large charts can be hung on a wall; however, when wall space is limited, a space saver version of the chart fits on the back of a door.

A postural analysis chart is most effective when used in conjunction with a plumb line, which is a straight line that suspends a weight or “Bob” on its end. This system has been used since the time of the Egyptians to ensure that structures were being built perfectly upright. When the weight is made of lead (plumbum in Latin), it is referred to as a lead weight or Plumb Bob. A plumb line is used for many reasons during a postural analysis, as it will:

  • ensure the posture chart is hanging straight;
  • guarantee the client is viewed from a 90-degree angle;
  • determine placement of the client’s feet prior to taking postural analysis photos; and
  • supply a visual reference of the midsagittal and coronal planes in the posture photos. This shows clients where their body is being held in space by the muscles, why the muscles hurt, and how you can help.

Hang the plumb line from the ceiling, approximately 3 feet in front of your posture analysis chart. This distance will allow clients of all sizes to stand between the posture chart and the plumb line without touching either one. The Plumb Bob should be suspended from the ceiling and hang approximately ¼-inch from the floor. To get the plumb line out of the way and conserve space when the posture chart is not in use, simply hook it over one of the pins holding the chart on the wall. If you are using the door version of the chart, hook the plumb line behind the hinges.

The use of a construction-grade plumb line to suspend the Plumb Bob will prevent a lot of problems—just make sure the line is securely attached to the ceiling. A professional Plumb Bob kit comes with ceiling anchors and a construction-grade line attached to a professional Plumb Bob.

Positioning

Have the client stand between the postural analysis chart and the plumb line. Be sure his/her body is not touching the plumb line or the posture chart. It is important for the client’s feet to be placed in the identical position from one photo to another to guarantee consistency. Use tape, a template or a piece of Plexiglas on the floor to mark the client’s position.

Anterior and Posterior Views

There are a few things to remember when taking anterior and posterior posture analysis photos. First, place the medial (inside) aspects of the client’s heels shoulder width apart and equally spaced from the plumb line (Photo 2). This position allows the plumb line to indicate the midsagittal plane of the body in your photos. Then you can also use postural analysis photos to show the client that his/her body is to the right or left of the midsagittal plane (Photo 1). Second, position the back or posterior aspect of the client’s heels the same distance away from the posture chart to avoid creating the illusion of a twist, torque or rotation in the body.

By positioning the feet using the medial and posterior aspects of the heels, the client is free to laterally rotate the lower extremities, thereby revealing more postural distortions.

 

Lateral Views

For lateral views, position the client so that the plumb line is immediately anterior to the lateral malleolus. (Photo 5) This position allows the plumb line to represent the coronal plane of the body. Ask the client to place his/her hair behind the ears to expose the external auditory meatus: an anatomical landmark used as a reference point to determine the position of the head on the coronal plane.

 

Camera and Photos

The camera you use does not have to be elaborate. Most massage therapists can simply use a cell phone camera. If using a cell phone camera, however, make sure to implement the necessary safeguards to protect your client’s privacy, such as setting security codes or downloading the photos to a secure computer for storage and retrieval.

Once you have taken the photos, keep it simple. The easiest way to review your findings with the client is on the screen of the camera. If you wish, you can download and print the photos later for the client’s file.

Anterior and posterior view photos can reveal a number of issues, including a high shoulder (Photo 3) or high hip, the space between the torso and the upper limb, the positions of the hands, an externally rotated lower limb, a fallen arch, or if the head and/or torso are held to the right or left of centerline, to name just a few. (Photo 1)

Lateral view photos make it easy to point out a forward head (Photo 6), rounded shoulders, and a slumped abdominal posture, as well as the angle of the innominate bones and the position of the knees; they are also helpful in identifying a twist or rotational pattern. (Photo 4)

Value

Just like chiropractors advertise free “spinal exams” to attract new patients, you could provide free “postural analysis” to attract new clients. Include the postural analysis as an added value during the initial visit; then include a second complimentary postural analysis once the client completes a series of treatments. This is not only a great way to sell packages, but it also demonstrates the client’s postural progress and shows the effectiveness of your treatments.

Additional Benefits

Everyone likes to be remembered. In addition to helping you ascertain the client’s structural issues, postural analysis photos can help you remember what your clients look like, so that you can greet them by first name. Clients often return months or years after receiving therapy; your photos can help you notice a new hairstyle or the weight the client lost, which makes them feel important and special.

Professional Image

You know what they say: A picture is worth a thousand words. Integrating postural analysis into your practice helps you stand out from other therapists in your area. The public will perceive your unique practice as a cut about the rest. Postural analysis raises your level of professionalism and credibility in the mind of your clients, while providing client education and building your practice at the same time. Postural analysis photos only take a moment to snap, but they are an invaluable resource to you and your clients.

 

SIDEBARS

 

Ten Advantages of Taking Postural Analysis Photos

1.     Educates clients about postural distortions

2.     Shows which muscles are stressed and over-lengthened

3.     Explains visually and logically the muscular causes of pain

4.     Helps clients decide to purchase a series treatments

5.     Documents posture before, during and after a series of treatments

6.     Shows clients, physicians and insurance companies treatment progress

7.     Presents clients with customized treatment plans

8.     Records and documents client’s postural changes

9.     Reflects the professionalism of your practice

10.  Helps build your practice

Postural Analysis Checklist

o      Obtain written permission to take photos.

o      Hang plumb line 3 feet in front of posture chart.

o      Hang Plumb Bob approximately ¼-inch off the floor.

o      Instruct client to remove shoes and jacket, and place hair behind the ears.

o      Have client stand between the postural chart and the plumb line.

o      Anterior view: Place heels an equal distance from the plumb line and posture chart.

o      Lateral view: Position client so that plumb line is immediately anterior to lateral malleolus.

o      Handle photos as confidential medical records.

David Kent, LMT, NCTMB, is an international presenter, product innovator and writer. His clinic Muscular Pain Relief Center is in Deltona, Florida, where he receives referrals from various healthcare providers. David teaches Human Dissection, Deep Tissue Medical Massage and Practice Building seminars, and has developed a line of products, including the Postural Analysis Grid Chart™, Trigger Point Charts, Personalized Essential Office Forms™, Muscle Movement Chart, and DVD programs. Visit www.KentHealtht.com or call (888) 574-5600.

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Tools to Succeed for Massage Therapists to Build Your Practice

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By: David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

In these tough economic times, how can you stand out above the competition so that clients will continue to spend their time and money on treatments with you? Well, it often depends on your ability to determine the root of your clients’ complaints coupled with the effectiveness of your treatment and your ability to educate your clients about the muscular components of their pain.

This article will review effective, time-proven methods that work together to educate and empower your clients so that they’ll not only want to continue their treatments, but also play an active role in their own healing process. All massage modalities can be integrated with the tools discussed in this article in any type of setting, including spa, clinical or outcall practices.

Education is a necessary component of a client’s overall treatment plan. Although one treatment may be helpful, perhaps a series of four, six or more would provide greater benefit. But in order to communicate this to your clients and help them recognize why committing to follow-up treatments makes sense, it is necessary for them to understand the processes of their body.

Using Forms

A client’s initial visit should always include a detailed intake form that provides an overview of his/her current and past health conditions. Often this paperwork reveals clues by listing prior accidents, injuries, surgeries and chronic conditions. Additionally, maintaining written accounts of a client’s health history helps protect you in the unlikely and rare event of a client lawsuit. Professional liability insurance covers you as a therapist in case you are ever sued. Remember to always seek authorization from the client’s medical doctor if you are unsure about potential contraindications.

Visual Pain Scales allow clients to specify and document regions of discomfort, the type and intensity of the pain, and other complaints. I suggest you take the Visual Pain Scale into the treatment room, review it with your client, and place it on a stand so that you can reference it throughout the session. This also helps ensure that you remember to address all of your client’s complaints, which a key factor in retaining a steady flow of returning clientele. Without the aid of documentation, it can be easy to slip into a massage routine and forget to address the very reason the client sought treatment in the first place (Photo 1).

Taking Pictures

It is said, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Postural analysis photos only take a moment to snap, but they can go a long way in helping you explain the stresses on various muscles and to show which muscles are shortened and over lengthened. Keep it simple, the camera and screen built into a cell phone would even allow you to show client’s their forward head or high shoulder posture. Remember to always get permission to take postural analysis photos and treat them confidentially—as you would any other medical records (Photo 2a and 2b).

Relying on Charts

Charts can help you explain to clients the function of muscles and demonstrate why some are stressed and painful. Portable flip charts provide a professional presentation in any environment and are easily moved from one location and/or treatment room to another. The best flip charts on the market are easy to use with logical formats and laminated pages to prevent oils and lotions from damaging them over time. (Photo 3)

Wall charts are also useful and easy to reference. If you are limited on wall space, you can invest in an inexpensive wall chart hanger system that allows you to hang and access up to 10 wall charts in a single space. Muscular and skeletal charts are useful in showing the symmetry that exists in the body. And a Postural Analysis Grid chart makes it easy—even for the layperson—to see the body’s asymmetries in postural photos. And a muscle movement chart also gives the degrees of normal range-of-motion for each joint, which aids with the assessment and development of a treatment and self-care routine.

Trigger point charts, depending on their design, can assist in developing a comprehensive treatment plan that is both based on medical research and specific to your client’s pain.  (Photo 4 ). If trigger points are identified during the treatment session, a trigger point flip chart can also help you show clients their trigger point patterns while they are still on the treatment table. The formation of trigger points is often the result and/or cause of postural distortions that can be identified in the postural analysis photos, as well.

Using and Selling Topical Analgesics

Topical analgesics can help generate additional income without spending extra hours in the treatment room. Many clients use topical analgesics between treatments. There are several types on the market. One company offers free samples attached to a flyer with your name and contact information printed on it. This is also beneficial in promoting your business. Integrate the use of topical analgesics into your treatment routine and give your clients a few sample packs to use at home. Free samples often lead to future sales. If your clients want to buy a topical analgesic, it’s better for you to make a few extra dollars selling it than sending them to the drugstore down the street.

Review

At the end of each treatment, take a minute to review your findings with the client. Use their pain scale, posture photos, skeletal, muscular and trigger point charts to create a treatment plan. This would also be an excellent time to offer your client a package of treatments that has a financial incentive for them to commit.

Remember, people will spend money on care they feel will make the difference in the quality of their lives. You just need to give them the knowledge and the reasons to make an educated decision. Using the tools and systems outlined in this article will enable you to revolutionize and protect your practice in these tough times.

David Kent, LMT, NCTMB, is an international presenter, product innovator and writer. His clinic, Muscular Pain Relief Center, is in Deltona, Florida, where he receives referrals from various healthcare providers. David is President and Founder of Kent Health Systems which teaches Human Dissection, Deep Tissue Medical Massage and Practice Building seminars, and has developed a line of products, including the Postural Analysis Grid Chart™, Trigger Point Charts, Personalized Essential Office Forms™, and DVD programs. Visit www.KentHealth.com or call (888) 574-5600 for more information.

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BIOFREEZE: Massage Therapy Practice Building Tools

Watch two short video clips by David Kent on ways to build your massage practice with Biofreeze.

Biofreeze Locator – Where To Buy

The BioFreeze Educational Brochure is free to massage practitioners and a great way to promote your practice. One Biofreeze sample pack is attached to each brochure. Biofreeze will print three lines of customized information (Name, address, phone) on the brochure and ship them to you free.

The BioFreeze Countertop Display Case is also free and great way to build your massage practice

To order your FREE Personalized Biofreeze Educational Brochure with Sample Pack please click here.

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Comfort Craft Massage Table Model 800 Features & Benefits

David Kent uses Comfort Craft massage tables in each of his treatment rooms.

Take a video tour as David shows you the features and benefits of the Comfort Craft Model 800 Massage Table. Learn about the:

  • Comfort Conforming Face Cradle With Gliding Action prevents compression of the cervical spine. The face cradle can be set to any angle and when not in use can be quickly repositioned under the table.
  • Adjustable Arm Rest provides comfort at any angle. Multiple adjustments points gives you the ability to make the modifications for short or tall individuals .
  • Foot Controls allow you to easily adjust your table height and the angle of the mid-split table top throughout the treatment. There are two sets of foot controls, one set on each side of the table.
  • Treatment Stool with Large Wheels provides a solid base and lets the therapist position to the perfect angle throughout the treatment. Single hand lever allow for quick and easy height adjustment.
  • Side Lying Treatment Tips and Benefits
  • Prone Treatment Tips and Benefits

To receive additional information about the Comfort Craft Model 800 Click Here or call Jim Craft at 800-858-2838

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Finding Employment as a Massage Therapist – Hire Me!

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By: David Kent LMT, NCTMB

At the end of my seminars, I ask attendees to fill out a brief performance-review survey. The final question asks what therapists believe is the biggest challenge facing the massage industry. The question usually elicits a wide range of responses; however, at a recent seminar, the response was overwhelmingly the same: “finding a job.”

This article will review some simple but proven techniques to help tilt the scales of successful employment in your favor. Remember: There is a difference between knowing what to do and doing what you know. Your time and energy are valuable and must be spent efficiently. So why not take the time to ensure that you stand out above the competition?

Have a plan. Before you do anything, create a written plan so that you will stay focused on your goal. Generate a list of the spas, clinics, and chiropractic and medical offices that you would like to visit. Contact them ahead of time to determine if they are hiring; then ask each prospective employer about the qualifications they seek in a therapist. This information will help you narrow your search.

Put yourself out there. There is a common saying: “You will miss every opportunity you don’t take.” This might seem obvious, but you need to hit the ground running and not stop until you find a job. You might have had a couple of great interviews; you might think you have the job “in the bag,” so to speak. But until you’ve been officially offered a position, nothing is certain. Continue to seize every opportunity until you’ve found the job you know is right for you. Additionally, contact local massage therapy schools, instructors and associations and ask to be added to their email blasts announcing new jobs in the area.

Get informed. Before meeting any potential employer, do your research. Read the company’s ad in the phone book and visit their Web site. Learn the company’s history, read the staff bios, learn what services are offered, and research any other information that you might need to know for an interview. A common interview question is: “Why do you want to work here?” Researching the company ahead of time will prevent you from being caught off guard, intimidated or unprepared, which will ultimately help you to market your skills, experience, strengths and interests more precisely during an interview.

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Head, Neck and Shoulder Pain: How Trapezius Plays a Roll

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By: David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

When clients enter complaining of headaches, neck and shoulder pain it is easy to show them that their pain is a “symptom” of a bigger problem. Educating clients about the muscular components of their pain, often determines if they reschedule and refer their family, friends and coworkers. This article will review a few of the trigger point (TrP) patterns of the trapezius muscle and its involvement in various postural patterns.

Trigger Points:

Trigger points form in muscles for a reason and are often a result of trauma or stress. Poor posture can place a great deal of structural stress on the trapezius muscle. The human head is heavy and designed to be support by the bones of the cervical spine. Remember, muscles determine where bones are held in space. So a client with a forward head and rounded shoulder posture, has shortened muscles on the front of the body with over lengthened muscles on the back. The pains or “symptoms” are their headaches, neck and shoulder pain and we want to educate our clients on how we can address the cause.

When clients report that they have a headache that starts in their temple, deep in the head or behind the eye that continues behind their ear and into the back and side of their neck, they are describing TrP # 1 pattern of the trapezius muscle, which is one of the most common TrPs in the body (See Photo 1). Showing clients this pattern on a trigger point chart lets them know you understand the pain they are reporting and have a plan to help. This TrP forms from acute trauma from a whiplash, sustained shoulder elevation from holding a telephone to the ear, working on a keyboard that is too high, compression on the muscle from the shoulder strap of a heavy back pack or the pressure of a bra strap. Skeletal anomalies like a short lower limb or a hemipelvis should also be ruled out.

Commonly overlooked, is TrP 3 in the lower trapezius that refers a deep aching tenderness above the scapula that causes clients to report a “soreness” in the region of the upper trapezius. The pattern typically runs from the base of the occiput out laterally to the acromial process (See Photo 2). TrP1 and TrP 2 in the upper trapezius often develop as satellites within this zone of pain and tenderness that is usually referred from the lower trapezius TrP 3”1

Trigger points in middle and lower trapezius are often a result of tight pectoral muscles that should be released.

Posture:

The human body is designed with a great deal of symmetry or balance and has the same bones and muscles on both sides. Muscles on the front and back of the body counter balance each other. Addressing the cause of your client’s pain requires a whole body approach. Postural analysis is a great tool to document and educate your clients.

Muscles are like guide wires and determine where the bones are moved or held in space. When the bones and joints are properly aligned on the coronal, midsaggital and transverse horizontal planes the muscles are under minimal stress. To demonstrate this to your clients, first use muscular and skeletal charts to show the proper postural alignment of the body. Then review photos taken of your client in front of a postural analysis chart to show them which muscles are shortened, which are over lengthened and the unnecessary stresses being placed on their body causing pain. (see Photo 3)

Let your client’s know you will design a treatment plan to address their pain. Educate them on postural distortions like: forward head, high shoulder, forward rounded shoulders, collapsed abdominal posture, the position of the pelvis, anatomical deviations and more are not an isolated phenomena and cause the formation of trigger points and pain throughout the body.

David Kent, LMT, NCTMB, is an international presenter, product innovator and writer. His clinic, Muscular Pain Relief Center, is in Deltona, Florida, where he receives referrals from various healthcare providers. David is President and Founder of Kent Health Systems which teaches Human Dissection, Deep Tissue Medical Massage and Practice Building seminars, and has developed a line of products, including the Postural Analysis Grid Chart™, Trigger Point Charts, Personalized Essential Office Forms™, and DVD programs. Visit www.KentHealth.com or call (888) 574-5600 for more information.

1 Simons DG, Travell JG, et al. Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual, volume 1, 2nd ed. Williams and Wilkins: 1999.

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Practice Building For Massage Therapists: Consistency Breeds Success

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By: David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

The current economic slowdown is stressful to everyone. Business is slow, treatments are down, and both are affecting the bottom line. During these challenging times, however, there are things you can do to consistently to breed your success. Instead of getting frustrated and discouraged, use this extra downtime to your advantage. Following the tips in this article will help you achieve ongoing success in your practice, whether you are in a clinical, spa or outcall setting.

Getting Out There

Marketing professionals know how important repetition is to “imprint” a product in the mind of the consumer. This same concept applies to massage therapy and your ability to imprint your services on potential referral sources. Each week, I visit specific locations that have become my best referral sources. If you aren’t getting the number of referrals you would like, it’s time to get out there and introduce yourself. Here are just a few places to start:
o      Medical and chiropractic clinics

o      Acupuncturists and homeopaths

o      Hotels and salons

o      Personal training centers and gyms

o      Tennis and golf courses

o      Yoga studios

o      Health food stores

o      Gymnastic and dance studios

o      Business centers

Talk it Up

You took the time to get out there; now you need to make it count! Your goal is to attract business by educating your referral sources about the importance of massage therapy.  Advertisers use test markets and focus groups to refine their messages. But before you begin pitching your services, you will need to practice and refine your “commercial” with your “test market,” which is located in the next community over.

That’s right. You need to practice your selling skills before you officially launch your marketing campaign with your “real” audience in your own community. Practicing gives you the opportunity to build your confidence while simultaneously getting comfortable with introducing yourself to strangers, telling them what you do, and answering commonly asked questions. But don’t let yourself off the hook with your practice sessions. Make sure that you are as professional and courteous with your test audience as you plan to be with your “real” audience. The following tips will help you get comfortable in this newfound role as salesperson.
o      Introduce yourself. Let people know who you are, what you do, and where you practice.

o      Talk to everyone you come into contact with—everyone! From waiters and waitresses to the FedEx delivery person to your mechanic, dentist, or insurance agent.

o      Never assume that people know what massage is or how it can help them.

o      Following each encounter, reevaluate your performance and ask yourself the following questions: What did I learn?  What will I do different next time? What other strategies could I try in the future? Answering these questions will help you do a better job each time.

o      Finally, ask your clients and referral sources what they think is important for you to tell others when marketing your services. You’ll be surprised at how helpful their feedback will be.

Show and Tell

Explaining the basics helps others understand how massage therapy can help with headaches, sciatica, neck and back pain, and more. Additionally, using “props” can help educate your clients.
o      Carry a trigger point flip chart with you. Explain how trigger point patterns are often the cause of severe pain.
o      Take a moment to examine the posture of the person you are speaking with. Educate your contact about how each individual’s unique postural pattern can be treated with massage therapy. Then describe your ability to custom tailor your treatments accordingly.

Mutual Benefits

Discuss how you can be of mutual benefit to each other.
o      Can you send them business?

o      Take some of their business cards to pass out, and ask them to do the same.

Leave Treasures

Do something unique so that your referral sources remember you.

o      Give a helpful tip. If you are talking with a secretary who complains of neck pain, suggest that he/she try a telephone headset, or adjust the height and angle of the computer monitor or chair.

o      Teach simple stretching techniques.

o      Leave healthy snacks. I know people who are always on the run and rarely stop to eat. Sometimes, I’ll drop off an apple, nuts, and a bottle of water, along with my business card.

o      Leave samples of topical pain relievers.  

Contact Information
You’ve invested your time and energy marketing your practice. Now make sure that your referral sources can find your name and number when it counts. Be sure to leave
o      Business cards

o      Magnets

o      Flyers

o      Pens

o      Notepads

o      Any other tool you think will leave an impression.

Education
Clients often want to understand and learn more about their condition, so put your education to good use.
o      Continually educate and re-educate your clients.

o      Show them how to stretch and maintain themselves between sessions.

o      Explain the importance and benefits of regular exercise.

o      Use visuals, such as anatomical models, textbooks, trigger point charts or other charts to show the musculoskeletal origins of their condition.

o      Review the effects of poor posture and explain how it contributes to pain. Since a picture is worth a thousand words and many cell phones have cameras, taking postural analysis photos on the road is easier than ever. Read “Getting Comfortable with Postural Analysis” (Massage Today, July 2008) for more tips on using postural analysis photos.

o      Discuss the uses of ice, heat, and topical analgesics for pain.

Say “Thank You”

o      Place follow-up calls to new clients.

o      Send thank you notes to clients and referral sources.

We typically avoid the things that we are uncomfortable doing; however, with practice, you will quickly realize that certain thoughts and actions consistently focused in positive directions will ensure your success. And if you practice your selling skills consistently, you will improve each time you sell your services to somebody new. Remember: practice makes perfect! Hang in there and don’t get frustrated. Results don’t always happen overnight. Just invest the time and keep a positive attitude. You’ll be amazed with the results!

David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

David Kent, LMT, NCTMB, is an international presenter, product innovator and writer. His clinic, Muscular Pain Relief Center, is in Deltona, Florida, where he receives referrals from various healthcare providers. David is President and Founder of Kent Health Systems which teaches Human Dissection, Deep Tissue Medical Massage and Practice Building seminars, and has developed a line of products, including the Postural Analysis Grid Chart™, Trigger Point Charts, Personalized Essential Office Forms™, and DVD programs. Visit www.KentHealth.com or call (888) 574-5600 for more information.

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Self-Care for Massage Therapists: Preparing for the Game of Treatment

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By: David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

While massage therapists are not professional athletics like Michael Phelps, Tiger Woods or the William sisters there are a few similarities we should examine and learn from. Professional athletes consistently perform certain actions that helped ensure their success. Massage Therapists can apply many of the same philosophies and actions to help their success. Unlike professional athletes that have contracts that pay them even when they are injured or sick, the income of a massage therapist is often directly related to the number of treatments they are performing. This article will review some of the similarities between these two groups and ways massage therapists can protect themselves while treating their clients.

Physical Demands:

Professional athletics prepare their physical bodies to avoid injuries while executing their skill in a particular sport. They train regularly since they make their living competing on the field, the court or in the pool and cannot afford to be sidelined since future competitions and rankings depend their current performance. Similarly, massage therapists require their physical bodies at high levels in the treatment room, doing outcalls or performing chair massage. Therapists are also being “ranked” by their clients on whether to reschedule, the amount of the tip, or to refer family, friends and co-workers.

Many sporting events place physical demands on the players for 30 to 90 minutes a game. Likewise, the length of a typical massage therapy session is 30-90 minutes. The physical demands on the therapist can be enormous depending on the client’s size, techniques being integrated, room temperature, flooring type, table height, and other factors.

Self-Care:

Michael Phelps competed in 17 races during the 2008 Olympics winning 8 gold medals, injury free. Do you think he integrated self-care techniques like: stretching, resting, eating nutritious foods, working-out and massage therapy? Many massage therapists perform seventeen plus treatments every few days with little to no self-care. Massage therapists must train and maintain their bodies to avoid injuries and be prepared for the physical demands needed in the treatment room. Care for your body by:

o      Sleeping enough so your mind and body are well rested.

o      Stretch daily to maintain flexibility, good posture and avoid injuries.

o      Workout regularly to have the strength and endurance to perform therapy. Yoga is a great workout that includes flexibility.

o      Drink plenty of water.

o      Eat nutritious foods.

o      Receive massage regularly

Protect your Body:

Athletes wear special equipment to protect their bodies like: helmets, padding, eye goggles, gloves or support braces on their knees, ankle and elbows. The equipment gives them an edge and allows them to work smarter not harder while avoiding injury. Here are a few tips for protecting your body:

o      Wear the proper shoes to avoid pain in the feet, knees, back and neck. Would you expect a pro sports athlete to wear dress shoes for competition?

o      Adjust your table height for the size of the client and techniques being integrated. You are setting yourself up for injury if your table is not set ergonomically correct for the job being performed. It will be impossible to use proper body mechanics, if your table height is too high or too low.

o      Use proper body mechanic. This is the easiest way to avoid injury and conserve your energy.

o      Sit in a chair or ball when working on a client’s neck or feet, to give your body a break.

o      Use pressure bars, rollers and other devices once you are trained and proficient in there safe use.

Collecting the Data and Facts:

Competitive athletes collect any data possible by reading articles or reviewing video clips of prior competitions to identify patterns and design counterstrategies. Here are a few ways to learn more about your clients, their conditions and how to design customized treatment plans:

o      Gather information by having the client complete intake forms. This process also helps the client get clear on the chronological order that this condition has progressed and recall the types of treatments and their effectiveness to date. Then you can ask for clarification of what they have written

o      Identify patterns by taking postural analysis photos. Many cell photos have cameras built in to them, making it easy to take postural analysis photos. Review Trigger Point or other charts that determine the possible origins of their condition.

o      Design a customized treatment plan to address their condition with in information gathered from the intake forms, postural analysis photos, range-of-motion, discussion with the client, trigger point findings, etc.

o    Educate your client during and after the session. Again, postural analysis photos show how their poor posture is causing stress on various muscles, joints and ligaments of their body. You can also use the photos to show postural improvements over time. I also use a wet erase marker to circle all of their Trigger Point patterns on the charts so they better understand what I am doing and the goals we are trying to achieve.

The Fundamentals:

The top athletes in any field will tell you they consistently practice and apply the basic fundamentals of their craft. They also have a coach on staff to ensure they are applying the fundamentals. You can easily have a coach with you everyday by integrating the following:

o      Watching DVD programs over and over will help reinforce the information and is similar to being in a seminar.

o      Review manuals and handouts adding special notes. Some programs have manuals that correspond to the DVD programs and cross-reference other products like charts of that same system. This helps you “connect the dots” and integrate the information.

o      Receive massage regularly from different therapists. This helps you reevaluate your approach and “tableside” manner.

o      Read articles in trade journals and online.

o      Take seminars to improve your skills.

o      Stay connected and interact with your peers.

The bottom line is massage therapists can protect their bodies and income by applying the same fundamentals as professional athletes. The key is making certain actions priorities in your life and consistently following through. I encourage you to read all the articles in my “Keeping It Simple” series and hang this article in a place that allows you to review it often as a “coach” to help keep you on target.

David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

David Kent, LMT, NCTMB, is an international presenter, product innovator and writer. His clinic, Muscular Pain Relief Center, is in Deltona, Florida, where he receives referrals from various healthcare providers. David is President and Founder of Kent Health Systems which teaches Human Dissection, Deep Tissue Medical Massage and Practice Building seminars, and has developed a line of products, including the Postural Analysis Grid Chart™, Trigger Point Charts, Personalized Essential Office Forms™, and DVD programs.

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A Year in Review: Practice Building Resources and Tips

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By: David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

As 2008 winds down, I am reminded of all that I have to be grateful for: good health, my friends and family, and—for the most part—a thriving business and practice. Yet, at the same time, I am concerned about the future. The economy has reached record lows and has negatively impacted massage therapists everywhere. Right now, you may be wondering if it’s possible for your clinic, spa or outcall practice to weather these storms. The answer is yes; however, surviving these challenging times will depend largely on how resourceful and creative you are when it comes to your business.

During the course of the last two years, I have had the privilege of writing many articles for Massage Today that offer practical solutions about how to create a flourishing massage therapy practice. I’d like to take a moment to refer you to them now. Whether you are a new or experienced therapist, this article will provide you with a cheat sheet to my previous articles. Think of it as a “Solutions Guide” that will help you find new ways to energize and reinvigorate your practice.

Eliminating Blind Spots

Our thoughts determine our focus, which influences our actions and effectiveness. If we think negative, unproductive thoughts, we produce outcomes at a lower level. An example of this would include looking for your keys while continually saying, “I can’t find my keys.” Stating that you can’t find your keys over and over simply reinforces the negative situation that you are trying to avoid. Or, at the very least, it creates a blind spot in your thinking. Are you creating blind spots in your career? Then you need to focus on solutions. If business is slow, don’t focus on how slow it is. Instead, focus on what needs to be implemented to turn things around. One rule of thumb is to focus 80 percent of your time and energy on 20 percent of the things that matter most to you. Read: The 80/20 Rule: Maximizing the Return on your Investment

Attaining your Goals

We must take a few minutes every day to work on attaining our goals. What are three things you could do right now that could help your practice, but that you have delayed because you are fearful of the unknown or of possible rejection? To put those thoughts and fears behind you, you need to be proactive. Make a list twice as long of all of the good things that will happen by taking action. You will immediately have clarity and a desire to move forward. Read: The Power of a Minute and The Power of the List.

Balancing the Systems

Just as the body has many systems that work in harmony with one another, so must the systems in your practice. Is your practice operating as efficiently as possible? What isn’t working that you would you like to change? Read: Massage Your Balancing Act and All Systems Go.

Keep Your Skills Sharp

They say, “If you don’t use it you loose it”. I still regularly treat clients at my clinic and love to receive massage. I learn allot from every treatment I receive. When was the last time you received a massage?  Are you following the recommendations you tell your clients?

What about hands-on seminars, have you studied anything unique lately? Read: The Body is in Charge and Feeling is Believing. What textbook could you read to improve your knowledge and skills? Are you reading articles on treatment? Read: Safety Protocols: Carotid Artery and Subscapularis: Overlooked and Under Treated For many DVD programs with accompanying photo manuals are get aids. This type of tool supports hands-on seminars by allowing you study prior to or after a training.

Maintaining a Polished and Professional Demeanor

Imagine walking into a store to buy a specific item. You locate the item, which is manufactured by two different companies and sitting on the shelf side by side. Each is priced the same. One box is nice, new and brightly colored; the other box looks like it was run over by a truck. Which one would you buy? Now imagine that you are a potential client or employer looking to hire a massage therapist. Do you think that a therapist’s overall appearance and actions might influence your purchase? Are you dressing or “packaging” yourself in the right light? What sets you apart from other therapists in your area? Do you specialize in a particular modality or possess special training? Are you setting high standards of care by asking your clients the right questions? Are you communicating to clients that you are highly skilled and knowledgeable in your field?  Read: Questions with Direction.

Tools of the Trade

All healthcare providers use paperwork, instruments and devices to gather information, as well as to evaluate, educate and treat their clients. Pain scales are great tools to show progress over a series of therapy sessions. Many massage therapists take postural analysis photos to document their client’s progress and educate their clients about the benefits of treatment. Trigger point charts help you explain referred pain patterns to your clients, which gives them confidence that you can design a treatment plan to help them. Read: Charting your Progress: Visuals for Success; Simple Answers Create Positive Results; and Getting Comfortable with Postural Analysis.

Building Your Practice

Does the community know about you and your business? How do potential clients contact you? Have you distributed your cards and/or brochures in health food stores, gyms, and chiropractic and medical offices? Have you met the tennis and golf professionals in your area? Have you considered writing an article for the local paper about the benefits of massage therapy and/or your particular specialty? Do you have a Web site that is up to date? If you are a new therapist, are you communicating your availability with phrases like, “Now Accepting New Clients”, “Outcalls Available” and “Introductory Specials”? Are you taking a few minutes to follow up with new clients after their initial visit? Are you sending thank you cards to your clients and referral sources? Remember to show your clients and your referral sources your appreciation. A little acknowledgement goes a long, long way. Read: Building Raving Fans: Consistency is Key.

As we move into 2009, I encourage you to stay focused and positive. Times are tough, but things will get better. In the meantime, continue to educate yourself and improve your craft. Check out MassageToday.com for unlimited resources to help you build a successful practice, and stayed tuned for more great articles in next year’s “Keeping It Simple” series. Happy Holidays!

David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

David Kent, LMT, NCTMB, is an international presenter, product innovator and writer. His clinic, Muscular Pain Relief Center, is in Deltona, Florida, where he receives referrals from various healthcare providers. David is President and Founder of Kent Health Systems which teaches Human Dissection, Deep Tissue Medical Massage and Practice Building seminars, and has developed a line of products, including the Postural Analysis Grid Chart™, Trigger Point Charts, Personalized Essential Office Forms™, and DVD programs. Visit www.KentHealth.com or call (888) 574-5600 for more information.

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